Lawmakers, following a request from the House ethics committee, are surveying aides and former House pages to find out if any of them had knowledge of ex-Rep. Mark Foley’s inappropriate conduct toward male pages.
In a separate investigation, the FBI was to meet Tuesday in Oklahoma City with a former page who may have received suggestive electronic messages from Foley, the former page’s attorney said.
The two probes center on the nature of Foley’s relationship with teenagers, called pages, who serve as errand-runners for members of Congress.
The House ethics committee inquiry was moving quickly.
Charlie Keller, spokesman for Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, R-Fla., said she contacted two pages before receiving the committee request and asked if they were aware of inappropriate behavior from Foley, any other lawmaker or staff members. Both said they were not.
Aides for other House members reported similar results Monday.
The ethics committee leaders, in a letter to all House members, asked them to contact current and former pages they sponsored to learn whether any of them had “inappropriate communications or interactions” with Foley or any other House member.
The ethics panel, formally known as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, also directed lawmakers to cast a wide net and ask aides what they might have heard about improper approaches by Foley or others to pages before revelations about his sexually explicit Internet messages surfaced last month. Foley resigned Sept. 29.
In Oklahoma City, meanwhile, attorney Stephen Jones said that his client, Jordan Edmund, would be questioned by the FBI Tuesday, The Oklahoman newspaper reported.
Edmund, a Californian, has been living in Oklahoma City and working as a deputy campaign manager for the gubernatorial campaign of Rep. Ernest Istook, R-Okla. Edmund was a U.S. House page in 2001 and 2002. The FBI is investigating whether Foley sent Edmund inappropriate emails.
Meanwhile, the lawyer for Kirk Fordham, Foley’s former chief of staff, said Monday his client could testify before the committee as early as this week. Fordham has said he informed House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s staff in 2003 about Foley’s inappropriate messages to pages.
Timothy Heaphy, Fordham’s lawyer, said he contacted the ethics committee Friday and was told Fordham could appear this week to provide sworn testimony.
The ethics committee’s four-person investigative subcommittee said it approved nearly four dozen subpoenas for testimony and documents, although many witnesses are expected to testify voluntarily without the need for a subpoena.
J. Randolph Evans, Hastert’s lawyer, said, “We are working to cooperate fully,” but did not know when Hastert may appear.
Fordham is a key figure because of his statements that he notified Hastert’s staff about Foley in 2003 and possibly as far back as 2002. His statements have been rebutted by Hastert chief of staff Scott Palmer, who denied having a discussion with Fordham about Foley. A major task of the ethics panel will be to determine who is telling the truth.
Heaphy, Fordham’s attorney, said that after his client’s conversation with Palmer, Fordham “was told by Palmer and Foley” that the speaker’s chief of staff and the lawmaker had met. Heaphy was not present at the meeting.
There are other instances in which Foley was said to have been confronted years ago with complaints about his behavior regarding pages.
In 2000 or 2001, Foley was approached by Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., or someone in Kolbe’s office about what were described as “creepy” e-mails to a page, Korenna Cline, Kolbe’s press secretary, said Monday.
Cline said the page had come to Kolbe’s office with e-mails that were described as making the page uncomfortable. A year earlier, Kolbe had served on a five-person board that oversaw the page program.
“We felt we took the appropriate action at the time,” Cline said. She said a member of Kolbe’s staff saw the same former page in a social setting last week and suggested that the page take the information to the House clerk’s office.
Kolbe is the only openly gay Republican now serving in Congress. He is retiring at the end of this year.
In a CBS News-New York Times poll released Monday, four in five said GOP leaders were more concerned with politics than with the well-being of the congressional pages. Nearly half of those polled, 46 percent, said Hastert should step down, while 26 percent said he shouldn’t.
But voters have their doubts about how the Democrats would have handled the page scandal, with 75 percent in an ABC News-Washington Post poll saying Democrats would not have done any better.
The ethics committee is led by Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and ranking Democrat Howard Berman of California, who appointed themselves to lead a four-person investigative subcommittee.
The letter from the two leaders to all members said they expected that lawmakers with information would contact the subcommittee and asked lawmakers to question their staff members about whether they have any relevant information.
Associated Press reporter Jennifer Talhelm in Washington contributed to this report.
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